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To the educators

December 22, 2009

Best instructional practice for young children remains an unresolved issue in many preschools. Are preschools practicing proper developmentally appropriate strategies, and if so, what might these be? Many concerns are about the dumbing of syllabus and curriculum in trade for the mentioned strategies. Hence, the issue is about an earnest desire to provide an effective program for young children, a program that does not compromise today’s high expectation standards of early education.

How can educators best teach the whole child in order to fully prepare him or her for a future, that will demand not only the mastery of intellectual standards but also the curiosity, creativity, big picture thinking social competence, and love for learning that futurists predict will be highly valued in tomorrow’s economy? Or as simply as, “How to raise a noble child?” The answers to such a question lie within what characterizes excellence in early education.

“In order to establish a foundation for a preschool’s curriculum, educators must know about the nature of young children and examine their beliefs regarding how they learn.”

According to Thomas Armstrong in his book “The Best Schools: How Human Development Research Should Inform Educational Practice”, the direction an educational program takes depends on its leadership’s “discourse”, or overarching way of thinking about education and the teaching and learning process. Two dominant views were identified, or discourses, that influence educational practices today. Academic achievement discourse, human development discourse, or both influence the classroom environment of a program, that program’s daily practices, and ultimately its curriculum and expected outcomes. Contrasts within these belief systems often create a conflict because what we do in a classroom and what we believe about the nature and needs of the young child may not be in alignment.

Academic achievement discourse focuses on the cognitive, or academic, aspects of schooling. Standardized tests measure achievement, and educators use group norm norms to evaluate the results. The need for uniform rigorous standards and preparation for the future heavily influence the program’s design and the children’s educational experience. The demands of the future push curriculum expectations downward.

On the other hand, human development discourse places the greatest emphasis on human beings rather than on academics. An emphasis on human development suggests a process involving the growth of the whole child across all strands of development: cognitive, emotional, social, physical, moral, and spiritual. Because children are on varying developmental timeliness, instruction is flexible and more individualized. Evaluation methods focus on each child and measure an individual child’s growth over time.

In order to establish a foundation for a preschool’s curriculum, educators must know about the nature of young children and examine their beliefs regarding how they learn.  The next blog posting will discuss about young children’s nature being, which are integrated and immature individuals, and they need involvement, social interaction, and moral instruction.

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